Union Station

Urban Attractions

Union Station
A railroad station that opened in 1891 by the Louisville and Nashville Railroad has served as offices for the Transit Authority of River City since 1980.

It superseded previous, smaller, railroad depots around Louisville at the time. Completed in 1889 at a cost of over $310,000, it was once the largest railroad station in the southern U.S., covering 40 acres.

Designed by F. W. Mobray, in the Richardsonian Romanesque-style, with brick-faced limestone ashlar quarried in Bowling Green, KY, and Bedford stone trim from Indiana. The roof, trussed with a combination of heavy wood and iron, is covered with slate. Architectural features include a clock tower, smaller towers, turrets, a facade of considerable size, and barreled vaulting.

The interior featured an atrium, dining, and spacious ladies’ retiring rooms on the first floor. A wrought iron balcony overlooks the atrium. Soft lighting comes from rose-colored windows on both sides of the atrium. The walls are made of marble from Georgia, as well as oak and southern pine. Ceramic tiles covers the floor.

A fire in 1905 occurred in the facility, and the original rose-colored windows were replaced with an 84-panel stained glass skylight that became a feature of the barrel-vaulting tower.

At the height of rail travel in the 1920s, the station served 58 trains a day, with the popularity of rail travel diminishing by the mid-1960s.

Amtrak used the facility from 1971 until 1976, when it began running the Floridian in conjunction with the Auto-Train from a suburban station. From 2001 to 2003, a track on the west side of the parking lot served Amtrak’s Kentucky Cardinal to Chicago.

The first floor is open to the public from 8 am – 5 pm, Monday – Friday.